This winter, as the novel coronavirus began to take hold of the country, many states, cities, and counties acted quickly to minimize the impact of the crisis on tenants, including placing moratoriums on evictions, holds on shutting off utilities due to nonpayment and prohibiting late rent fees.
The federal government suspended evictions and foreclosures in public housing through the end of April. Government-backed mortgage buyers Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae agreed to do the same through the end of August. However, April has come and gone, so what is the Current State of Evictions – July 2020, in the time of COVID-19?
The short answer is it depends on where you live.
Where Can Landlords Proceed with Evictions?
To date, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are officially allowing landlords to proceed with evictions. While it may be held virtually in some states, landlords can now take their case to court.
As always, there are proper ways to handle an eviction of a tenant. You must always follow your local eviction laws. Still, if your tenant has violated the terms of your lease and attempts at remedying the situation have been unsuccessful, you can proceed as usual.
Remember, it is illegal to attempt to remove a tenant without the use of the court system –– no matter how bad of a tenant you’ve deemed them to be or how late they are on their rent, you cannot change the lock, move them out, or harass them into leaving.
To ensure a smooth eviction process, we hope you’ve been keeping detailed records of the violations of lease terms, written communication and attempts at mitigating the issues, and the like. As always, we recommend attempting to avoid eviction altogether. That means proposing payment plans, resolving disputes between neighbors, and more. However, when it comes down to it, you cannot and should not be afraid to evict.
What About the Rest of Us?
In some states, it’s not so clear what the current path forward is for evictions. Take Colorado, for example. Under the governor’s order on June 13, 2020, landlords can provide tenants with default notices but must give 30 days’ notice, effectively postponing evictions for 30 days. However, in Denver, the mayor placed a hold on removals indefinitely.
Meanwhile, in Missouri, evictions in Jackson county resumed on May 31, with the caveat that anyone filing a suit must submit a certification of compliance with the CARES Act until July 25, 2020. For the rest of the state, evictions filings are back as usual.
In Montana, eviction protections remain in place for those who meet specific criteria, but all others may be evicted. Ohio presents another unclear situation: technically, evictions are allowed, but the governor requested that landlords not evict tenants.
While currently under an eviction moratorium at the time of publication, Virginia will resume evictions on June 28, 2020, and the Supreme Court of Virginia has stated it will not extend the freeze.
When Will Evictions Resume for the Rest of the Country?
Again, that depends. The current state of evictions in July 2020 for most states, the moratorium is set to expire soon. Many states have it set to expire by the beginning of August, while others give no official date, stating they are suspending evictions during the state of emergency. As we know, eviction limitations, like everything with COVID-19 has proven to be, are subject to change at any moment. When discerning how to best proceed with an eviction, please consult your local and state laws.